City and Borough of Wrangell - CBW
Unified Home Rule Borough
- Area Type
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate
- Pronunciation/Other Names
- (rang' gull)
- Community's Judicial District
- Recording District
- Census Designated Place (CDP)
- Borough/Census Area FIPS Code
Geography and Climate
- The City and Borough of Wrangell is located on the northwest tip of Wrangell Island, 155 miles south of Juneau and 89 miles northwest of Ketchikan. It is near the mouth of the Stikine River, a historic trade route to the Canadian Interior.
- Wrangell is in the maritime climatic zone and experiences cool summers, mild winters, and year-round rainfall. Summer temperatures typically range from 42 to 64 °F; winter temperatures range from 21 to 44 °F. Average annual precipitation is 82 inches,with 64 inches of snowfall. Fog is common from September through December.
- Community Map Available
- Map URL
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
History and Culture
- Wrangell is one of the oldest non-Native settlements in Alaska. In 1811 the Russians began fur trading with area Tlingits and built a stockade named Redoubt St. Dionysius in 1834. The island was named for Ferdinand Von Wrangel, manager of the Russian-American Co. around 1830. The British of Hudson Bay Co. leased the fort in 1840 and named the stockade Fort Stikine. A large Stikine Indian village, known as Kotzlitzna, was located 13 miles south of the fort. The Tlingits claimed their own ancient trade rights to the Stikine River and protested when the Hudson Bay Co. began to use their trade routes, but two epidemics of smallpox, in 1836 and 1840, reduced the Tlingit population by half. The fort was abandoned in 1849 when furs were depleted. The fort remained under the British flag until Alaska's purchase by the U.S. in 1867. In 1868 a U.S. military post called Fort Wrangell was established and named for the island. The community continued to grow as an outfitter for gold prospectors, especially in 1861, 1874-77, and 1897. Riotous activity filled gambling halls, dance halls, and the streets. Thousands of miners traveled up the Stikine River into the Cassiar District of British Columbia during 1874 and to the Klondike in 1897. Glacier Packing Co. began operating in Wrangell in 1889. The Wilson & Sylvester Sawmill provided packing boxes for canneries and lumber for construction. The city was incorporated in 1903. By 1916, fishing and forest products had become the primary industries -- four canneries and a cold storage plant were constructed by the late 1920s. In the 1930s, cold packing of crab and shrimp was occurring. Abundant spruce and hemlock resources have helped to expand the lumber and wood products industry. The Alaska Pulp sawmill, Wrangell's largest employer, closed in late 1994 but was reopened on a smaller scale in 1998 by Silver Bay Logging, only to be permanently closed and subsequently dismantled by 2008. Tourism as well as a growth in seafood processing and marine service industries have become the economic backbone of the community. The city was dissolved and reincorporated as the City and Borough of Wrangell on June 1, 2008.
- Wrangell is primarily a non-Native community with a mixture of Tlingit, Russian, British, and American historical influences. Logging and fishing have supported the community.
- Federally Recognized Tribe
- Name of Federally Recognized Tribe
- Wrangell Cooperative Association
Facilities, Utilities, and Health Care
- Municipal Facilities & Utilities
- Piped Water, Piped Sewer, Electric, Refuse Collection, Landfill/Incinerator, Hazardous Waste Disposal, Medical Center, Harbor/Port, Police, Volunteer Fire/Rescue,Jail (State contract), Public Safety Building, Library, Museum, City Hall/Civic Center, Roads, Schools, Parks & Recreation, Swimming Pool, Day Care, Alcohol Program, Planning, Cemetery, Community Development, Economic Development
- The city is accessible by air and water. The state-owned paved, lighted runway allows for jet service. A seaplane base is adjacent to the runway, with another airplane float located in the Inner Harbor. Charter air taxi services are also available. The marine facilities include a breakwater at each of the three harbors with 710 slips for recreational and commercial vessels, deep draft dock which just completed upgrades and rennovations, state ferry terminal, and three boat launches. Freight arrives by barge, ship, ferry, and cargo plane. Front Street was reconstructed as part of a larger downtown revitalization project three years ago. Several new trails have been developed, including a new loop on Volunteer Park Trail and the Paddle Craft Trail, a canoe/kayak portage.
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge